A photo of the obstructed view spectators on the Bangor Waterfront had of the annual Fourth of July fireworks in Bangor. Credit: Photo courtesy Ken D'Errico

Spectators gathered at the Maine Savings Amphitheater and along the Bangor Waterfront for the annual Fourth of July fireworks were promised the “best view” in Bangor for the annual display by organizers of the city’s celebration.

But when the first fireworks were set off around 9:15 p.m., people there could only see the very tops of the explosions, which were being set off at Bass Park, about a quarter of a mile from the amphitheater. The amphitheater walls and stage blocked the view of many of the fireworks being set off, meaning the people gathered both inside the venue and out had an obstructed view.

It was a surprising development for a community accustomed to watching the fireworks from the waterfront.

Bangor resident Ken D’Errico was watching the Bangor Symphony Orchestra and Stone Doctors concert at the amphitheater with his wife and brother-in-law, and opted to move outside to the waterfront for the fireworks.

“We noticed a few shells going off at the start that were some distance away, but just thought those were amateurs. After a few minutes we discovered they were in fact the Bangor fireworks,” he said. “Many people were upset and either left or attempted to find a better viewing location.”

Multiple people complained about the obstructed view on the Bangor Fourth of July Celebration Facebook page.

In prior years, the fireworks have been set off from either the shore on the waterfront, or from a barge in the Penobscot River. With more development along the river, however, the close proximity to other buildings means any shorefront display now has to be smaller in size to ensure safety. A barge was unavailable to rent this year, so organizers opted to move the staging area to Bass Park, to allow for a much larger display.

The Bangor Fourth of July committee, an organization overseen by Bangor Breakfast Kiwanis and which puts on the parade, pancake breakfast, concert and fireworks, issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon apologizing for the less-than-stellar views, and noted that it is an all-volunteer organization that runs entirely on donations.

“[The committee] apologizes for the visibility challenges during the Fourth of July display,” read the statement. “Due to circumstances beyond our control, we were forced to relocate to Bass Park as our final option.”

People gathered at other traditional fireworks viewing spots like High Tide Restaurant and Mason’s Brewing on the Brewer waterfront and Bangor Municipal Golf Course had excellent views of the display, however, with the golf course in particular having a nearly unobstructed view of the approximately 45-minute show.

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.